Commuter Bicyclist Behavior and Facility Disruption

Principal Investigator(s):

Francis Harvey, Former Associate Professor, Geography


  • Kevin Krizek, Former U of M Researcher, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

Bicycle commuters often encounter interruptions or unpleasurable circumstances along their preferred commute route, ranging from a tight squeeze along a bridge to the complete re-routing of a given facility, such as a dedicated path or bike lane. These disturbances prompt cyclists to select sub-optimal facilities to avoid disruptions. Studying cyclist commuter behavior provides a basis for prioritizing future infrastructure improvements and understanding the impacts of disruptions. Analyzing behavioral factors leads to a better understanding of disruption effects, which can become critical inputs for improving cycling transportation infrastructure. This research aimed to analyze cyclist behavior and prepare a report offering suggestions for prioritizing infrastructure improvements. Subjects recruited from neighborhoods in South Minneapolis prepared daily route log books for a period of three weeks, took part in additional entry and exit surveys, and participated in one focus group meeting to solicit overall subject insights. Data logging equipment using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology provided fine-grained information about cyclist behavior. The research was successful in establishing insightful relationships between commuter cyclist behavior and facilities, and the methodological results are significant for future work. Among important findings, results showed that as perceived safety decreases, riders appear to be more cautious and move more slowly; however, in situations of substantial perceived danger, riders go faster to spend as short a time as possible in unsafe conditions. Cyclists choose these dangerous situations over alternatives because of lessened travel times.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2006007
  • Start date: 08/2005
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Bicycling

Reports or Products: